Bob Marshall Wilderness Pack Horse Service?

Craig4791

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For those of you Montana guys. Can any of you recommend a pack horse service for the northern Bob? As long as my dad and i draw our general Deer/Elk tags we will be going this year and i would like to get us in pretty deep. The area i am looking at right now is about 9 miles as the crow flies from the nearest trail/road.

I would like to just be packed in and out, i have all of my own backpacking gear so a drop camp is not something i am interested in.

Thanks

Craig
 

Ryan Avery

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I am also very interested in this. I have talked to quite a few outfitters about this. They either have no interest or want a left testicle to get you in their.
 

Matt Cashell

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The Bob is pretty much carved out by long-standing outfitters, so finding a packer is going to be a pain.

Guys don't want to get in trouble for outfitting without a license, and tend to err on the side of caution.

Developing a friend with stock is a major endeavor, but the best bet, IMO.

Also, just generally when talking about the Bob, make sure you're not in the Sun River Game Range, with is off limits to hunting.

I assume you already know about the fly-in option.
 

2rocky

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It is going to be expensive. A typical drop camp for 4 people for a week -10 days will take 4 riding horses, 4 pack horses, a day or two to set up the drop camp, 2-3 days to get the camp out after the season, plus meat runs/ wellness checks every other day . That is why folks get charged $2500 per head instead of $4000 for a guided hunt. Many times the USFS permit require a SET camp as part of the use permit for the outfitter.

I think with a well developed relationship, with the right outfitter (lots of "ifs" i know). It could be a workable situation. No Outfitter wants his Drop camp clients complaining that he packed someone up into the basin they were hunting. If you are the drop Camp and spike out from there, you are that much closer.

To give some perspective:
...an up to 14 day horse rental would be $400 plus delivery ($1.65 per loaded mile) from Thompson Falls. http://www.bigskyhorseleasing.com/

a packer doing a gear drop has a lot of other roles he could be filling during the hunting season that are higher return. That is part of what makes hunting season rates more expensive. Lots of time stock is stretched thin to get guided hunters to camp, more stock gets sore from guys riding with heavy packs, and unbalanced saddles, they travel more miles off trail, and burn more feed.

Hunting season operating costs are 1.5 X more than summer if not more....
 
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Craig4791

Craig4791

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It is going to be expensive. A typical drop camp for 4 people for a week -10 days will take 4 riding horses, 4 pack horses, a day or two to set up the drop camp, 2-3 days to get the camp out after the season, plus meat runs/ wellness checks every other day . That is why folks get charged $2500 per head instead of $4000 for a guided hunt. Many times the USFS permit require a SET camp as part of the use permit for the outfitter.

I think with a well developed relationship, with the right outfitter (lots of "ifs" i know). It could be a workable situation. No Outfitter wants his Drop camp clients complaining that he packed someone up into the basin they were hunting. If you are the drop Camp and spike out from there, you are that much closer.

To give some perspective:
...an up to 14 day horse rental would be $400 plus delivery ($1.65 per loaded mile) from Thompson Falls. http://www.bigskyhorseleasing.com/

a packer doing a gear drop has a lot of other roles he could be filling during the hunting season that are higher return. That is part of what makes hunting season rates more expensive. Lots of time stock is stretched thin to get guided hunters to camp, more stock gets sore from guys riding with heavy packs, and unbalanced saddles, they travel more miles off trail, and burn more feed.

Hunting season operating costs are 1.5 X more than summer if not more....

That is a cool option! It's more than i would like to spend, mostly because of their location and the price of getting the horses to the trailhead but it would really allow us to cover some ground having the horses with us the whole time.
 

tstowater

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That is a cool option! It's more than i would like to spend, mostly because of their location and the price of getting the horses to the trailhead but it would really allow us to cover some ground having the horses with us the whole time.

I've never done this, but I'm guessing that the horses will need to eat and if you need to take feed in, the time and cost will only go up. BB has the right idea, but it is not cheap to have horses around, especially for someone else to use. IMO.
 
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Craig4791

Craig4791

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I've never done this, but I'm guessing that the horses will need to eat and if you need to take feed in, the time and cost will only go up. BB has the right idea, but it is not cheap to have horses around, especially for someone else to use. IMO.

That's a good point. I don't know much about horses I just figured they would have plenty of grass and such to eat along the way?
 

Matt Cashell

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Honestly,

Pack stock in the backcountry isn't something you just jump into. They make a lot of things easier, and a lot of things harder. They do require care and monitoring. Wrecks can be dangerous.

You don't just rent them, saddle up, and head in.

Finding an experienced horse person to partner up with is a good start.
 

Coyote Commander

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Honestly,

Pack stock in the backcountry isn't something you just jump into. They make a lot of things easier, and a lot of things harder. They do require care and monitoring. Wrecks can be dangerous.

You don't just rent them, saddle up, and head in.

Finding an experienced horse person to partner up with is a good start.

+1

More times than not, they're more trouble than their worth. I used to trap a lot off a horse. Gimme a good mule any day of the week.

Not to mention, not many will just hand over some animals that they've spent years getting trail ready to (no offense) some guys that may know absolutely nothing about stock handling. Packing is an art form that takes time to get the hang of, ive been around horses my entire life and still wouldnt be entirely comfortable taking a string in somewhere without someone with some knowledge with me.
 

Coyote Commander

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That's a good point. I don't know much about horses I just figured they would have plenty of grass and such to eat along the way?

If youre really working em, grass isnt enough. Especially late season grass which may have little to no nutritive value.
 

blb078

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Just put an add in the local craigslist that you're looking for someone to drop you off/pick you up with horses. Doesn't have to be an outfitter, all you're doing is looking for a ride in/out, and pack out what ever animal you get so the rid out will cost more. By the time you get done paying the fees an outfitter wants, you're better of buying a few pack goats and walking in.
 

2ski

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Just put an add in the local craigslist that you're looking for someone to drop you off/pick you up with horses. Doesn't have to be an outfitter, all you're doing is looking for a ride in/out, and pack out what ever animal you get so the rid out will cost more. By the time you get done paying the fees an outfitter wants, you're better of buying a few pack goats and walking in.

Yeah, don't do that. They can get a ticket for operating without an outfitter's license. Tomorrow, 10:30 MST on either the Sportsman's or Outdoor channel will be the Warden's show about the MT FWP game wardens and they question some guys about just this.(it was on Thurs too) They hired a guy to get them in on horses, and could've got a ticket for hiring an unlicensed outfitter. So it has to be an outfitter to have someone drop you off. Seriously, there is the fly in option BB talked about. I would say my brother could drop you off, but he doesn't have his charter ticket. If I remember correctly, about 15 years ago, the pilot's assoc. wanted to "trade" a runway in the Bob and put one into the CMR, but the powers that be didn't go for that. So I know there is at least one airstrip, if not multiple ones.
 
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